Dandelions are the epitome of cheerful resilience. Though many people inexplicably find them ugly and try to destroy them with harmful herbicides, they’re sunny little drops of happiness that offer a multitude of health benefits and even potential treatment for several types of cancer. (Check out these studies on PubMed for more information.)
The flowers are especially treasured for their mild analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, making them an excellent addition to products designed for sore muscles or other external aches and pains. They’re also traditionally used in preparations to heal rough chapped skin.
In this post, we’re going to cover 12 pretty and practical ways that you can use dandelion flowers to make things that are good and useful for you and your family.
Note: Dandelions are generally safe for most people, but if you have active gallstones, are on diuretics, are pregnant, nursing or on medication, check with a health care provider before consuming internally. If you’re allergic to dandelions, don’t use these recipes.
1. Dandelion Flower Infused Oil
Dandelion flower infused oil is often used in recipes designed to soothe and heal chapped or cracked skin. It’s also helpful for sore muscles and other aches and pains. Shelf life of strained infused oil is around 1 year.
If you don’t have dandelion flowers where you live, you can occasionally find some for sale on Etsy.
To make it, fill a canning jar about half-way with dried dandelion flowers. Cover with about twice as much as your favorite carrier oil, or to the top of the jar. (Suggested oils include sunflower, olive, sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, hemp and so forth.)
For a quick infusion: Set the uncovered jar down into a small saucepan filled with a few inches of water. Heat over a low burner for a few hours, keeping a close eye that the water doesn’t evaporate out. Remove from heat and strain. The quick infusion is the best way to infuse coconut oil.
For a slower, more traditional infusion: Cap the jar of dried dandelion flowers and oil and tuck away in a cabinet for around 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally as you remember to. When the infusing time has passed, strain.
For an alternative option: You could also set the jar of dandelion flowers and oil in a sunny windowsill for several days to a week to jump start the infusion. (Don’t store for long periods in sunlight though, as it tends to fade flowers and herbs over time.)
2. Dandelion Flower Salve
Dandelion flower infused oil makes this salve extra soothing for:
- sore muscles
- achy & arthritic joints
- rough, chapped skin
Dandelion salve is especially ideal for those who work outdoors and with their hands a lot!
Find out (HERE) how to make and use dandelion salve.
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3. Dandelion Vinegar
Dandelions are full of minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron and and one of the best ways to extract those is via vinegar.
For this project, you’ll use fresh dandelion flowers mixed with leaves and stems.
To make: Gather fresh dandelion blossoms and leaves, rinse them well, and fill a jar quite full of them, but don’t pack too tightly. Pour apple cider vinegar over the fresh plant matter until the jar is filled.
Cover the top of the jar with wax paper or plastic wrap and then a lid. (This added layer keeps the acidity of the vinegar from eating away at metal lids.)
Place the covered jar in a dark cabinet and store for 4 to 6 weeks, shaking occasionally. Strain and it’s ready to use!
Here are a few ideas for using dandelion vinegar:
- dilute with equal parts water and use as a hair rinse
- make an oxymel, or sweet & sour herbal syrup, with it (more about oxymels HERE)
- dilute with water and dab on itchy bug bites
- pour 1 cup of vinegar into a bath along with 1 cup of Epsom salts for achy tired muscles
- make a homemade vinaigrette: Combine 3 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons dandelion vinegar, 1 tablespoon crumbled bacon, 1/2 tablespoon chopped onion, 1 teaspoon maple syrup and salt and pepper to taste. Shake together in a jar and let stand for twenty or thirty minutes so the flavors meld together. Shake again and pour over your salad. Yum! (Use white wine vinegar for a milder taste.)
4. Traditional Scandinavian Dandelion Syrup
This delicious way to use dandelion flowers was sent to me by Tina, a lovely reader in Denmark!
She was kind enough to translate and share a few traditional Scandinavian foraging recipes with me, including this one for Dandelion Syrup that she makes each summer.
5. Dandelion Soap
I made my first dandelion soap about 15 years ago, wondering what would happen if I put dandelion tea and dandelion oil in my favorite plain soap recipe. I was so happy with the results that I’ve made new variations almost every year since.
Dandelion soap is a perennial favorite among friends and family, and one of my top sellers from when I sold my soaps.
Here are a few of the dandelion soap recipes that I’ve published to date:
- Dandelion Shampoo Bars Recipe
- Dandelion Scrub Bar Soap Recipe
- Handmade Dandelion Soap (crock pot method)
- Honey & Dandelion Soap Recipe
If you don’t want to make soap from scratch, you could also try this quick and easy Dandelion & Honey Melt & Pour Soap project that uses ready made soap base instead.
For more soap inspiration and recipes, check out my Handmade Natural Soaps eBook package!
6. Dandelion Lotion Bars
I originally made these lotion bars for my husband. He was a rock mason and the mortar and rough stone left his hands dry, cracked, and bleeding.
Lotion bars have a long history of helping the toughest cases of cracked dry skin, while dandelion oil is particularly useful for alleviating the chapped skin and soreness that comes along with manual labor. This combination is excellent for his skin. He rubs the bar over his hands several times while watching TV each evening. There’s no messy salve to deal with and he can use it on the spots that are most bothering him.
7. Dandelion Tea
Dandelion tea can be made by packing fresh flowers and leaves into a mason jar and pouring simmering water over them. Let the tea infuse until it’s cool enough to drink then strain.
Dandelion tea is a classic spring herbal tonic. It helps purify and detox the blood and and is useful for helping the secondary symptoms of a sluggish system such as acne and constipation.
While dandelion tea can be helpful for some digestive issues, use caution if you have ulcers or chronic health issues and consult a medical professional before using.
Dosage for the tea is one to three cups per day, starting with a low amount and working your way up since it has laxative and diuretic properties your body may need to adjust to.
Dandelion tea can also be used in soap recipes (see #5 above.)
8. Dandelion Magnesium Lotion
I originally designed this recipe for the first edition of my Big Book of Easy Homemade Products book.
It was an instant hit with everyone who tested it, relieving leg cramps, back aches, growing pains, restless leg syndrome and various related ailments. One relative with chronic nerve pain in her arm declared it the best thing I’d ever created!
Dandelion oil and magnesium oil are both wonderful ingredients on their own, but when combined, they have a special synergy that’s amazing!
You can find the full recipe on my site HERE (or in my book if you own a copy!)
9. Dandelion Tincture
Tinctures are one of the best ways to preserve the benefits of dandelions. While this form does contain alcohol, it’s so concentrated that the end dose is similar to the alcohol content of some cough syrups. The dosage is counted in drops instead of cups. If you don’t consume alcohol, use dandelion vinegar (see #3) for similar properties.
To make a tincture, dig up a dandelion plant – root, leaves, flower, stem… the whole thing! (Or if the root is too difficult to dig up, you can use the leaves, flowers, and stems.)
Rinse it well then chop it as finely as you can. Place the pieces in a mason jar (jar size depends on how much plant you’ve gathered up) then cover with an 80 proof or higher alcohol like vodka. It’s a good idea to keep a layer of plastic wrap or wax paper between the tincture and the lid, if it’s metallic. Cap and store in a cool dark place for 2 to 3 weeks before straining, making sure you shake the jar every so often.
While traditional herbalists recommend a dosage of up to 30 to 40 drops, three or four times per day, I dose my family in much smaller amounts, never more than 4 or 5 drops at a time. (Tinctures are powerful things!) Use this tincture to help with constipation or a sluggish liver that leads to poor digestion and acne.
10. Dandelion Infused Honey
Raw honey is a healing food, all on its own. It’s soothing to the throat and GI tract, inhibits the growth of H. pylori (that nasty organism associated with ulcers), it can be used on the skin for acne, burns or diabetic ulcers, and daily use of raw, local honey may help seasonal allergies.
The entire dandelion plant is edible and is a classic liver tonic. It’s traditionally used for joint pain, eczema and as a blood toner and mild diuretic. Dandelion root extract is even being researched for it’s cancer fighting abilities!
The flowers are high in vitamin C, beta carotene and other nutrients.
We’re going to combine these two powerhouses and make a super charged honey!
To make this, you’ll need fresh dandelions and some raw honey. Remove the green from the dandelions so that you have just the yellow petals. (Some bits of green might remain, that’s okay.) Now, stuff these flowers into a small jar and slowly pour your raw honey over them. Stir with a knife to remove air bubbles. Let this sit in a cupboard for several days to allow the flowers to infuse into the honey. Once sufficient time has passed, you can strain the flowers from the honey by slightly heating the mixture (don’t go above 110 degrees F or the benefits of raw honey is negated) then straining through cheesecloth or a mesh strainer. Alternatively, you can do what I do and just leave the flowers in and spoon around them. You can actually eat the honeyed flowers by the spoonful too. I find them quite yummy!
The shelf life of this honey (strained) is at around a year (or longer), but if you don’t strain the flowers be sure to check for freshness each time before consuming. Take one to two tablespoons daily to possibly help with seasonal allergies and as a general health tonic. It’s also useful for sore throats, burns and as a face wash. Dandelion is safe for most people but is not recommended if you have active gallstones or are on a prescription diuretic. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend honey for children under the age of one.
11. Dandelion Cupcakes
Pick a handful or two of dandelions then wash and dry them thoroughly. Pull off just the yellow petals (the green has a stronger bitter taste you don’t really want in a cupcake.)
Mix up your favorite cupcake recipe, stir in the yellow petals, then bake like normal.
Let cool, frost and add an edible flower or two on top for decoration. Some flower ideas for topping: pansies, violets, violas, dianthus, lilac, bachelor buttons, hollyhocks and roses.
12. Dandelion Bath Bombs
These all natural bath bombs capture the sunshiny happiness of a field full of spring dandelions.
A few drops of sea buckthorn oil gives them a pretty yellow color, but you could also add a small amount of yellow Brazilian clay for a different shade of yellow.
The cheerful scent comes from a blend of litsea and orange (or lemon) essential oils, but you could change out the essential oils (lavender is another good option) or leave them unscented if you’d like.
For more natural bath soak and bath bomb ideas, be sure to check out my Natural Bath Care Package!